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Kantara, not a myth, but a legend: Why ‘liberals’ are bound to be upset with this movie and director-actor Rishab Shetty

This film offers some lesser-known Hindu Dharma Paddathis for non-Kannadigas, such as Bhootaradhane, Daivaradhane, Nema, etc. These should not be missed.

It’s been a great year for the South Indian film industry, as many of them, including KGF2, RRR, Vikram, Bheeshma Parvam, Karthikeya-2, Charlie 777, and Vikrant Rona, took the nation by storm at the box office thanks to their original narrative styles, breath-taking visuals, and larger-than-life characters. The South Indian films provided a breath of fresh air to the nation’s moviegoers with their honest approach towards upholding the dharma and giving the regional cultural touch without mocking one’s belief. This contrasts with the Bollywood movies, which struggle at the Box Office even to recover the money invested, with the exception of The Kashmir Files and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.

The Kannada film Kantara, which translates to “Mysterious Forest,” was written, directed, and starred by Rishab Shetty. It was made by Hombale Films (KGF Franchise). The film’s production values, performances, and breathtaking Western Ghats scenery in Karnataka keep you hooked to your seat for 2.5 hours. The film highlights the diverse customs and cultures that exist in coastal Karnataka, like Bhoota Kola (Spirit/Deity Worship) and Kambala (Buffalo Racing on Slushy Paddy Fields). Keradi, Rishab’s hometown, served as the film’s location.

The story begins with a backdrop from the 19th century about a king who promised to give a tribal people a piece of land in exchange for their diety Panjurli (Wild Boar Spirit), which he believed to have brought him peace and happiness. In addition to the diety Panjurli, Shivagana also has a Karnika (influence) known as diety Guliga, which is worshipped in the shape of a sacred stone.

Both deities are worshipped together here. In contrast to Panjurli, who is revered as the God of Prosperity and Guidance, Guliga is a Kshetrapala/Kshetrapalaka (Lit. Protector of the place/field) is ferocious, violent, and unforgiving. The main plot of the film is, driven by the greed of the King’s successors to reclaim the land granted to the tribal people and the Forest Department’s efforts to protect the wildlife and trees in the forest from hunting and deforestation by tribals, respectively.

While the focus of the film is primarily on Achyut Kumar’s portrayal of the King’s descendant and the landlord, Devendra Suttooru and Shiva (Rishab Shetty’s) rebellious nature and sycophancy toward the landlord, it is important to note Shiva’s gang, which includes Bulla, Raampa, Sundara, Naaru, and Lacchu characters, and their comic timing even in serious circumstances. A handful of Shiva and his gang’s scenes would make you jolt out of your seat in fear and make you giggle immediately. Raampa (Prakash Thuminad), a bachelor in his late 40s, deserves special mention because he consistently “scores” when given the chance. Shiva’s love interest Leela (Sapthami Gowda), who plays the newly hired forest officer, gave everything she had to whatever was required by her part. Leela’s difficulties with her obligations to the villagers and her sense of duty could have been thoroughly explored.

Devendra is an extremely well-written character who just might easily trick you with his butter talk, smile, compassion, and kindness. But when the time comes, he might be greedy, heartless and discriminator. In yet another great performance, Kishore—who portrays a hot-headed (and bald) DRF officer Muralidhar who occasionally displays his grey shades —makes the audience want to dislike him all the time but end up falling in love with him. Ajaneesh B Lokanath (music) and Arvind Kashyap (DoP), two more superstars in the movie, together would create the first half’s scenes relaxing to the ears and the eyes, especially with the song Singara Siriye sung by Vijay Prakash.

Rishab Shetty’s unforgettable final Guliga and Panjurli act can make anyone mesmerised with its impeccable choreography by Raj B Shetty and can guarantee goosebumps. Rishab, Raj, Ajaneesh, and Arvind’s collective efforts are what put the audience in a trance for the final 20 minutes.

It is expected that liberals will try to discredit this film because it has the essence of Hinduism and its traditions. Recently, Rishab Shetty and the Kannada anchor engaged in a rapid-fire round during one of the interviews after the film’s phenomenal success in the South, during which he was asked to describe the names she would choose in a word or two. The actor responded “Adhbuta Nayaka” (Great Leader) when asked about Narendra Modi, and “No Comments” when asked about Rahul Gandhi. His room temperature IQ supporters were appropriately outraged by the “No Comments” and attempted to trend “Boycott Kantara” on Twitter even though the movie is already raking in a tonne of money at the box office. He also identified himself as an ardent follower of his Dharma and a proud Hindu.

Kantara is designed to be watched in a theatre to truly appreciate the spirituality and cinematic feel. This film offers some lesser-known Hindu Dharma Paddathis for non-Kannadigas, such as Bhootaradhane, Daivaradhane, Nema, etc. These should not be missed. Since this movie is bringing families to the movies in Karnataka for a long time, it would not be unfair to ask the state’s chief minister, Shri Basavaraj Bommai, to declare it tax-free.

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